15. SSX Tricky
The first game in EA’s snowboarding series was a much-needed highlight of the PS2’s underwhelming launch line-up, but the sequel made it wholly redundant. The original game’s courses were all remixed and a couple of extra ones were added for good measure, while the showboating became even more outlandish with the addition of new Uber tricks. Beyond that, everything that players loved about the first game made the cut the second time around, be it the vibrant characters or the boisterous racing action. The fact that it’s still in the conversation for best snowboarding game ever says it all, really.
Harmonix was making great music games long before it struck plastic instrument gold with the Guitar Hero series, and Amplitude is a great example of that. This sequel to the extremely underrated Frequency tasked you with trying to get a song to auto-play by successfully playing certain sections of notes, across up to six instruments. This frantic juggling act was enhanced greatly by the eclectic soundtrack, taking in the likes of David Bowie, Run DMC, Blink-182, Slipknot, and Garbage. Although the remake for PS3 and PS4 is out there, we think it’s hard to top the musical selection here.
Capcom’s short-lived Clover Studio put out some great games, and Ōkami is one of the very best. This game puts players in control of Amaterasu, a sun goddess in wolf form whose goal is to save the land from darkness. This is arguably the closest thing to The Legend Of Zelda series that Sony’s console has, and it gives Nintendo’s classics a run for their money. The game’s unique visual style, inspired by classical Japanese artwork, gave it a cult appeal that ultimately saw the game converted to many other platforms despite the disappointing sales of the PS2 original.
12. Jak And Daxter: The Precursor Legacy
Having achieved great success on the PS1 with Crash Bandicoot, Naughty Dog decided to do something new for the next generation, and this was the result. Jak & Daxter is exactly the kind of collect-’em-up platformer that had been very popular in the previous generation but had the kind of open 3D environments that those older machines just couldn’t have achieved. Of course, it still featured the polished game design we’ve grown to expect from Naughty Dog, and the charismatic characters were expertly brought to life in the game’s plentiful in-engine cutscenes. It’s worth noting that the sequels are quite different.
11. Beyond Good & Evil
Tragically overlooked at the time of its release in 2003, this action-adventure has since come to be recognized as an excellent game that just didn’t quite get the sales push it needed. You play as Jade, whose planet is under assault from the DomZ – alien creatures that kill or enslave other creatures that they encounter. After being sought out by resistance forces, she finds herself uncovering the true nature of the DomZ. While the game design was perfectly good, what really stood out for the time was the quality of the storytelling as well as Jade’s appealing character.
10. Burnout 3: Takedown
Criterion’s first two Burnout games were great arcade racers, but their spectacular crashes were always something to avoid. This third game managed to correct that injustice by making combat a key part of the racing. Nothing was off-limits – you could slam your rivals into walls, run them into oncoming traffic or even drop down on them from above, all in the name of winning a race. It was incredibly fast and graphically spectacular, of course, but the cathartic release of aggression was always the highlight for us – and if that ever got boring, you could always cause carnage in the Crash Junctions.
9. Devil May Cry
Getting the hack-and-slash right in 3D was something that developers struggled with for a long time, and Capcom was arguably the first to achieve it with this early classic for the PS2. Dante’s first outing was originally conceived as a new direction for Resident Evil, but the game design became an original project incorporating a mixture of gunplay and close-range sword fighting, with emphasis on stringing together stylish combinations of attacks. The action is as smooth as the combos, and the game immediately established Dante as one of Capcom’s most beloved characters. Be sure to check out the third game too.
Frequently cited in tedious discussions on the artistic merit of videogames, Fumito Ueda’s directorial debut is great regardless of how you classify it. Ico’s basic design takes a lot from the likes of Prince Of Persia, with a mixture of platforming, puzzles and combat at the heart of the action. Ico’s unique feature is that its titular character is tasked with the protection of a captive girl named Yorda, whose difficulty in traversing the environment is a key part of the game’s puzzles. A full game escort mission might sound like the worst thing ever, but trust us – this one’s worth it.
7. Final Fantasy 10
The city of Zanarkand has been attacked by Sin, and suddenly, our hero Tidus finds himself in the world of Spira. With no idea what’s going on, the talented Blitzball player sets out to discover what happened and prevent it from happening again, meeting plenty of friends along the way. Final Fantasy 10 wasn’t a radical gameplay evolution but made revolutionary changes to the presentation of the series. For the first time, it was possible to explore fully 3D environments, and key cutscenes featured both detailed real-time character models and the introduction of full voice acting, drawing you into the story.
6. God Of War
Our first introduction to Kratos has held up very well over time, and feels especially good now that the series has moved on from its original Greek mythology theme “Small” is not a word in the vocabulary of this classic brawler – absolutely everything is dialed up to eleven, from the detail of the scenery and dramatic musical score to the size of the bosses and of course the level of violence on display. Kratos will pluck the wings from smaller enemies and plunge the Blades of Chaos deep into larger foes, often as part of some wonderfully choreographed QTE sequences.
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